Building A Strategy For Arsenal’s Summer Window
C.C CHENGAPPA | 15th January 2021
There always has to one positional cause of concern at Arsenal every season. Einstein’s famous words about insanity seem unfamiliar to those running the club in the red half of North London. After all, during the much maligned period of Arsène Wenger’s reign, if it wasn’t filling the Vieira-sized hole, the need to invest in the spine of the side in terms of the backline was pushed so under the rug, you’d think it was done on purpose. Under the Arteta regime however, it has been the attack that has lost its knack for goals and creativity, uncharted waters for a club that was always associated with “sexy football”.
Currently, this age-old syndrome has shifted to especially the No. 10 role that needs to be upgraded. Despite Emile Smith Rowe’s rapid ascent, the Gunners need a more established creative midfielder as relying solely on the Hale End graduate is shoddy planning, as shown in last night’s dull draw against Crystal Palace. And there are several players in the market who can fit the role that Arteta demands of them.
As has been the case with Arsenal over the years, the links tend to outnumber the actual acquisitions.
However, we have decided to take an estimated budget of about £80-100 million by supplementing generous donations from the Kroenke’s via potential sales by building a transfer strategy for the summer window as it’s time for Arteta’s men to build on signs of progress.
The current crop of centre-backs in the team stands at 8 but will be automatically reduced to 5 once the summer transfer window begins. The likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis and David Luiz will all make their way out of the club on a free transfer, freeing up the wage bill. With Sead Kolasinac currently on loan, it is still unclear whether Schalke will make his signing permanent given the state they are in, but he should fetch a respectable amount if other clubs try to sign him.
Midfield and Attack
Dani Ceballos will return to Real Madrid in the summer and re-signing him is unlikely given that the Spaniard hasn’t lived up to his initial electric start to life at Arsenal. Mohammed Elneny is another one that simply isn’t a top 6 midfielder and remains a very dispensable asset this summer.
The Folarin Balogun saga will continue to rage on and despite rumors about him signing a pre-contractual agreement with RB Leipzig, the likes of Fabrizio Romano have reported that his heart lies at Arsenal. The Mesut Özil saga need not be spoken about, given its monotony and also the fact that he seems dead set to join Fenerbahçe, possibly even in January.
Despite Alexandre Lacazette’s purple patch, he is another senior figure who has been tipped for a move away, considering he has been stalling on a signing a contract extension with his deal set to expire in 2022. The French No.9 remains one of Arsenal’s most profitable assets this summer and instead of making the same mistakes as the club did with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey, it’s best to bid farewell at the right time.
Lastly, let’s talk about Matteo Guendouzi. After the drama that ensued after the scuffle with Brighton’s Neil Maupay, Guendouzi has gone on to Hertha Berlin after a breakdown in relationship with Arteta and to be fair to the young buck, he has turned heads with his displays in Germany. Much like Lacazette, his price is bound to be high and given that age and potential are on his side, it’s a win-win for both parties.
Sead Kolasinac- £10 million
Mohammed Elneny- £5million
Alexandre Lacazette- £30 million
Matteo Guendouzi- £25 million
Total- £70 million
Estimated Value- £25-30million.
Contract Expires- June 30, 2024
One of the players who made waves during Norwich’s short-lived return to the Premier League, Emiliano Buendía needs no introduction. One statistic that does not lie is that he had the 4th highest chances created in his sole season in the Premier League. Buendía’s dribbling statistics are surprisingly high as he was the 5th highest for attempted and successful dribbles in the league last year.
With 7 goals and 6 assists in 19 appearances this campaign, the Argentine creator is flying this season. He can operate in an advanced role in midfield as well as out wide as a right-winger which makes him the perfect profile for Arsenal, considering the reported price as well.
𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝗔𝗿𝗲 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗺𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗜𝗻 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗸𝘆 𝗕𝗲𝘁 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽?
Buendia in a league of his own 🤯
Harvey Elliott what a player 👏
Olise getting the attention he deserves 👀
Who are the standouts for you? Any surprises? pic.twitter.com/TCqDyt5d76
— Liam Henshaw (@HenshawAnalysis) January 14, 2021
Defensively as well, he is no slouch to say the least. Winning an incredible 2.3 tackles and making 0.6 interceptions per match makes him the Championship’s outright most complete midfielder. What this goes to show is unlike the luxury No. 10’s that Arsenal have been associated with, whether that’s Özil or even Inter’s Eriksen, Buendía is the modern-day central midfielder who ticks all boxes and one that strays from the club’s self-sabotaging old ways.
Ideally, signing Buendía in January would be sensible but to bring the lad in the summer makes for one of the savviest investments the Gunners could make in their quest to rebuild the spine of what is a brittle side.
Estimated Value- £30 million
Contract runs out- June 30, 2022.
If Alexandre Lacazette and Folarin Balogun leave the Emirates, the only strikers remaining at the club would Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah. That doesn’t read well to say the least. At 23 years of age, Odsonne Edouard profiles brilliantly, managing to rack up 53 goals for Celtic since joining the Scottish juggernauts in 2017 and given the state of the club as well as the time left on his contract, Arsenal can bully someone in the transfer market for once.
In terms of his attributes, Edouard is renowned for his clinical finishing, fantastic link-up play and uses his 6’1 frame to great effect in the air. Much like Laca, his French compatriot can drop deep and be involved in build-up, which as seen under Arteta’s system is a trait that has worked wonders. The fact that he bagged 14 assists in all competitions last season alongside the 27 goals he scored speaks volumes of how he is so much more than just a No.9.
One might question him by mentioning the standards of Scottish Premier League but that would be lazy source of criticism. Proper scouting never dies out as proven by Virgil van Dijk and Kieran Tierney, regardless of the league.
Estimated Value- £25 million
Contract Expires- June 30, 2023
Julian Brandt was one of the three players brought in by Borussia Dortmund earned after the sale of Christian Pulisic. However, things haven’t always been rosy for the player on the pitch. The German international has had a torrid time of things this season, struggling to cope in a two-man midfield in Dortmund’s 3-4-3 system, However, there is no refuting the fact that Brandt is sensational and in a variety of roles.
Tactically speaking, in the 2019/20, the former Leverkusen man played a similar role to Santi Cazorla at Arsenal. He is active in the defensive and attacking spheres and operates with a view to finding spaces where none can be found. And in a deeper role, Brandt was exceptional. A brilliant ball progressor with an underrated eye for a pass, Julian manages to drop deep and find runners with his incisive balls between the lines. Paired alongside Smith Rowe, he can operate as a No.8 and run the show while allowing his younger counterpart to occupy the space behind the striker.
Add the fact that Brandt can operate in more advanced role in the hole behind the striker as well as a left-winger and there’s a player that is worth the hype. For a squad that barely has any depth, bringing in versatile players of the highest standard are worth their weight in gold. And especially when they’ve got the class of Julian Brandt.
Due to the fact that it is highly unlikely Der Borussen will let him go in January, this one makes total sense for the summer. The only risk is- would it be sensible to go for a player whose form has fallen off a cliff? That’s one for Arteta and Edu.
Estimated Value- £20-25 million
Contract Expires- June 30, 2024
Another of the regular starters for Norwich in their 2019-20 Premier League campaign was Max Aarons who has continued his fine run in the Championship. The young buck who has even been linked with the likes of Bayern Munich is hailed for his creativity, bombing down the right flank and proving to be an attacking force to be reckoned with.
Defensively, due to his age and relative inexperience, Aarons has been known to commit the occasional blunder when up against formidable oppositions. His 7 yellow cards in the Premier League show you he can come out second in these battles from time to time. However, young players need time to develop and there is no questioning his talent.
This should not be a cause for concern if Arteta is looking for a reliable and youthful attacking full-back who is ready to build on the switch of play across the field, down the flank or simply making runs to receive balls through the centre. A major part of Nicolas Pepe’s poor form is the lack of any overlapping runs or attacking support of any kind at right-back. Bringing Aarons completely changes that.
The Englishman is one for the future and can be the ideal replacement for a stagnant Bellerin and an out-of-his-depth Cedric.
Estimated Value- £20 million
Contract Expires- June 30, 2023
Yves Bissouma is another player who doesn’t need to be acquainted with the English top flight. The Malian midfielder has been stellar for Brighton this season and has been one of the few shining lights for everyone’s second team this campaign. As Partey anchors Arsenal’s back four, Bissouma brings a balance to the middle of the park as a box-to-box midfielder, seeing how it is a role that no one quite plays in the side.
Given that Arteta often employs two central midfielders, the Brighton man is defensively aware enough to thrive in this system while also possessing the ball-progressing ability to push Arsenal forward. The fact that in an average of 20 attempted duels per match, Bissouma has a success rate of 47% is one stat that stands out for sure, His workrate is phenomenal and Graham Potter has given him the freedom to roam the pitch and express himself. Completing 1.7 dribbles per 90, the Malian international has done just that and absolutely bossed proceedings.
Sign. Him. Up.
Estimated Value- Under £5 million
Contract Expires- June 30, 2023
Club Brugge have had a brilliant season so far with the club topping the table in the Belgian Pro League. While Federico Ricca’s sole assist may not inspire confidence, his experience and reliability should suffice for Arsenal who have come to rely on the services of Kieran Tierney heavily. Owing to the imminent sale of Sead Kolasinac, the Gunners should be able to easily afford Ricca and utilise him in a backup role that is expected of him.
Game time will not be hard to come by if Arsenal enter the latter stages of the Europa League as well. Another area where the Uruguayan is often deployed at centre-back. He would likely be the club’s 4th choice centre-half option and for a player valued under £5 million, Arsenal should snap him up as they’re in serious need of squad depth.
As brilliant as the Hale End posse have been, it’s time for Arsenal to level up. They can’t always rely on their incredible pool of young talent as proven by their dire draw against Palace last night. Whether Mikel Arteta is the right man for the job is something time will tell but with all the noises from the higher ups emphasizing he is, you either back him in the market or back yourselves into a corner, looking for another manager to have the impossible task of saving a club that doesn’t want to be saved.
And it’s groundhog day all over again.